Obituary: Lance Corporal William Sutherland, 94

Lance Corporal William Sutherland.
Lance Corporal William Sutherland.
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Lance Corporal William Sutherland, formerly of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and the Seaforth Highlanders, has died, aged 94.

Bill Sutherland was born at Leaderfoot, near Melrose in the Borders, in 1921. His father was a stonemason and the family moved around according to where he was working.

In 1937, at the age of 16, Bill joined the Territorials, so when the war broke out two years later he was involved from the start, joining the King’s Own Scottish Borderers (4th Battalion) and going over to France with the British Expeditionary Force, later being evacuated from Dunkirk.

He was posted with the Seaforth Highlanders (51st Division, 2nd Battalion) in May 1942 and went to North Africa, where he served as batman to a major. After its notable victory at El Alamein, the Eighth Army invaded Sicily and crossed into Italy, where Bill was involved in the capture of Salerno and Monte Cassino. After Italy surrendered, he returned home to prepare for the Normandy landings in 1944.

In August 1944 he was badly hurt when a German tank attacked the jeep he was driving in France and he had to be flown home.

By this time, he had married Emily in December 1942 in the Abbeyhill Church. Their first son John was born in 1944.

On August 18, 1944, Emily received a telegram saying Bill had been reported killed in action, followed by another nine days later saying he was injured and in hospital in Nottingham. He spent the rest of the war based at Strathpeffer in a holding battalion. He had pieces of shrapnel in his head for the rest of his life because it was considered too risky to remove them.

After demob in 1945, he worked in Wilson’s wine merchants, then Crawford’s biscuit factory and as a sales rep for Duckhams and then Revels Oils until he retired.

The family lived in a new prefab in Pilton when second son Raymond was born in 1950. They moved to Windsor Park Road, Musselburgh, in 1957. Bill enjoyed his garden and greenhouse and kept budgies.

He later moved to sheltered housing at Mansfield Court, where he looked after the grounds and won a prize for it. After a stroke, he moved four years ago to the Edinburgh Erskine Home, where he passed away on December 11.

Bill was a devoted father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He is to receive posthumously the Chevalier in Ordre national de la Legion d’honneur, France’s highest national honour.